Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diary of a Nobody

Diary of a Nobody, by George & Weedon Grossmith

(Also published as The Diary of a Nobody.)

"'The Diary Of A Nobody' began as a serial in 'Punch' and the book which followed in 1892 has never been out of print. The Grossmith brothers not only created an immortal comic character but produced a clever satire of their society. Mr Pooter is an office clerk and upright family man in a dull 1880s suburb. His diary is a wonderful portrait of the class system and the inherent snobbishness of the suburban middle classes. It sends up contemporary crazes for Aestheticism, spiritualism and bicycling, as well as the fashion for publishing diaries by anybody and everybody."
Well, that blurb just about covers it.  This was a "read aloud" book and suffered slightly in my estimation from my expectation that it would be even shorter than it was, the length being the deciding factor in my choice of it over a couple of other titles.

I went in hoping for something in the style of P.G. Wodehouse, and this faux diary is humorous-- but it offered fewer laugh-out-loud moments than a Jeeves and Wooster novel.  However, it's also more realistic and relatable, perhaps, as the main character is a middle class working man rather than the independently wealthy Bertie Wooster, whose whole life seems to be a series of vacations abroad or to various country estates. 

In short, this isn't one I'm planning to re-read obsessively, but it was nice for a once-through.  Gentle, friendly humor and full of reminders that that more things change, the more they stay the same.

Note:  We were reading an Amazon freebie e-book version on the Kindle.  It's still available for free, but be warned that the free e-versions do not include the original illustrations (or any illustrations at all, in fact).  I'm not sure how much we missed through the absence of those illustrations-- but not enough to make them worth paying for, I think.  If I read the book and loved it, then maybe I'd consider finding a nicer copy for next time.